I know the taste of tears, after twenty seven years the salt of my pain too familiar. Most days I am happy, but there are some when my heart sighs and a hushed memory escapes and releases the genesis of my sorrow. For a time, because of others, I cloaked my heartache and restricted them to private pages. The last time we spoke, you made me promise to never hide what I was feeling, to always be honest, no matter how afraid I might be. In honor of you, I share.
I know regret. Time wasted, the past that can never be changed. 1:11 a.m., the sweetest gift, an unexpected hello. Words hung in the air, left unspoken. A borrowed record, Billy Joel's She's Got a Way quietly played in the background, a promise when you returned I would hear the words I longed for. You wanted to hold me, look in my eyes; the first time they are said should always be special. You reminded me of the feeling, the kismet of the first time we gazed into each other's eyes. Until your reassurance, I was afraid of the depth of what I felt. We were young, we shared dreams, and we had forever. The fourth Monday in March 1987, my innocence ended, the future shattered. A helicopter crash on a riverbank in the Philippines is where you left this earth, left me.
I know one phone call can change the world, change my life. Your voice, shared laughter, a plan and a promise for the future made my heart sing. A few weeks later, your name and two words, Bobby's dead, dropped me to my knees. The pain swallowed me as my life rushed out.
I know how it feels to inhale but not be able to breathe. My first panic attack, the moment my denial ended and the reality you were never coming home dropped like a guillotine on my soul. Fear flooded my body, suffocated my heart, the loneliness in the room spun me until I collapsed broken on my bed. It is a desolation I will never be able to describe.
I know the torment of a restless night. The unanswered why that haunts me, denies me sleep. The solitude of the darkness magnifies the void you left. The emptiness next to me, a reminder of what might have been, should have been.
I know the sheaths of the seasons. In the fall the leaves gently cascade from the trees, dance where you rest, before they settle in the recesses between the grass and the bronze. Winter arrives, its storms blanket you in snow. The rains of spring wash away the coldness and give root to the soft green covers of summer. Your seasonal quilt is not the same as the one you wrapped around us in Pensacola. It does not matter, I will always lie next to you. It is the closest I can get until I hold you again in Heaven.
I know the sensation of forty one characters. My fingers run along your inscription while my heart retraces the memory of you. Remembrances of your touch awaken my soul. Pools of my heartache fall on your rank, embrace your name.
I know how fickle the weather can be on your birthday. The March sun can be warm or the winds can blow hard and cold. The ground can be covered in snow, soft and muddy from rain or covered in fresh grass. The climate will not stop me, I will always visit. The silence of the solemn garden broken as I sing Happy Birthday, make a wish, blow out your candle and then share a cupcake. This past year, the hardest of anniversaries; you have been gone longer than you were here.
I know what it is like to love another. I did as you would want, over time I let go. My heart was conflicted over the wonder and the guilt the first time I shared my bed. After, I cried in the shower, tears of admission, acceptance that your arms would never hold me again.
I know what it is to fear time. Seasons fade my memory. I can hear your voice in my heart, but some days I can no longer remember what it sounds like. I close my eyes and some nights you are vivid, wonderfully alive as we dance. Others, only fragments of you appear in my dreams. I am afraid age will steal the clarity, the wonder of you. Scared, memories will be eclipsed by the darkness of time.
I know the cost of freedom. My heart knows it all too well.